Build Your Compassion Muscle

Compassion muscleThe Greater Good Science Center partnered with Compassion Lab and the University of Michigan’s Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship to develop a Compassionate Organizations Quiz.  They asked readers about their experiences of organizational compassion. You’d think compassion in healthcare would be widely practiced, surprisingly, it isn’t. In fact, other industries including criminal justice, are more compassionate than healthcare.

While there may be numerous reasons for healthcare to lag in compassion, there are provoking reasons to bring compassion-building practices back to the heart of healthcare.  Compassionate care is defined as care that notices, feels and responds to the suffering of others (Von Dietz, 2000, M; Lown, B.A.J.Rosen, J.Martilla 2011) – representing a specific kind caring. We are beginning to understand how and why organizational compassion is vital to all of us in healthcare – whether patient or professional. It positively influences pretty much every critical measure including HCAHPS and employee engagement. For example, in a study of over 260 hospitals, investigators discovered that practices including compassionate employee awards, and pastoral care support for staff strongly positively correlated to patients’ “likelihood to recommend” the hospital.  (Click here to download Compassion Practices and HCAHPS)

One notable example of meaningful employee recognition which cultivates organizational compassion is The Daisy Award.  This award recognizes extraordinary nursing care. A large multi-site study analyzed the results of over 2000 nominations from patients, families and colleagues and identified several behavioral themes common to Daisy Award winners. “Genuine compassion and caring” ranked first out of 22 extraordinary nursing behaviors. (To learn more check out these resources: Strengthening the Workforce Through Meaningful Recognition and CHCM Daisy Foundation White Paper).  Perhaps most important is the sense of accomplishment and pride such awards provide caregivers.  We encourage you to take action in your organization to consciously build a culture of compassion.

Check out our downloadable infographic: Build Your Compassion Muscle 

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